Most of us are content with 3D printing’s amazing ability to convert digital models into 3D objects, amazed at the transformation from the virtual to the real. If you’re a net artist, though, who’s made a name for yourself finding beauty in the spaces outside of the intended uses for technology, printing Yoda heads is the last thing you’d be content with. At least, that’s how Australian artist Lia feels. After receiving a 3D printer as a gift from her husband, she began toying with what a 3D printer can do aside from robotically translating models to physical objects, saying on her blog, “I am really (!) not interested in creating 3D models in a 3D programme and then simply have them printed out. I rather wanted to know what can be achieved with the actual properties of filament and the movements of the printhead.”
Lia first made a name for herself in the art world in the 90’s with websites featuring artwork generated by algorithms. She’s continued her technological artwork up until now, most recently approaching 3D printing with a concept artist’s eye. Using her own program written with processing, Lia is attempting to understand the parameters of her printer and the filament that runs through it. The artist has printed a number of experiments to determine things like “at what distance from the build plate will a piece of filament start to droop without support?” or “what needs to be done to produce a single ‘dot’ on the build plate?” See images from those first experiments below:
After continuous experimentation, Lia claims that she was able to “create a new kind of sculpture, native to the medium” that reflect her journey through 3D printing’s parameters. Looking to see how one might control or not control filament, her sculptures reveal a few of the lessons she learned: “behaviours discovered: 1. surfaces can be continuous or chaotic, 2. lines can be rigid or organic, and 3. filament can be closely controlled or let free to find its own form.” You can watch her sculptures, in various stages of filament liberation in the following video:
Like any good scientist, Lia has documented her research process for others to replicate. Starting today, she will be posting her experiment notes, one every few hours, until she’s published all 30 blog entries. That way, not only can you watch the journey from blobs of white goo to organically structured filament sculptures, but you might be able to better understand your own print settings, too. If you’d rather just look at pretty pictures like the one below, though, you can just head on over to her artist’s site and check them all out.